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Old 11-16-2005, 05:54 PM   #1471
Icarus4578
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Yes, when my brother used to have it. Of course, he sold it just like he sold pretty much every other game he'd bought (about, oh, 100 or more titles this generation alone). I'll probably pick it up sometime on eBay or whatever seeing as it's so cheap.
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Old 11-16-2005, 11:06 PM   #1472
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i traded in my castlevania for dq viii...

i will get it again. someday. someday soon.
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Old 12-13-2005, 05:51 AM   #1473
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Be prepared for a barrage of high-octane reviews coming your way very soon, including Dragon Quest VIII, Trauma Center ~ Under The Knife, Castlevania ~ Dawn of Sorrow, Shadow of the Colossus, Tokimeki Memorial Taisen (Puzzle Drama), and a new special feature -- The 50 Greatest Video Game Soundtracks Of All Time.
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Old 12-13-2005, 10:54 AM   #1474
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gearhound
i traded in my castlevania for dq viii...

i will get it again. someday. someday soon.
DIE!!.. Oh wait you mean the ps2 3D game? DIE FOR BUYING IT!
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Old 12-18-2005, 07:03 AM   #1475
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Originally Posted by Icarus4578
The 50 Greatest Video Game Soundtracks Of All Time.
Plan ahead and just but The Twilight Princess as number 1. That, or one of the Mario games.
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Old 12-19-2005, 12:16 AM   #1476
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Uh-huh. Well I've got news for you: No Mario title managed to make it to the top 10. However, Zelda did. EAT THAT WHY DON'T YA, YOU CRAZY TURNIP!!!!
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Old 12-19-2005, 12:17 AM   #1477
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Argo, come home!

Shadow of the Colossus - PS2 - Rating 4
Five years. That's how long it took for Sony to cook up another adventure in similar vein to their previous arthouse expedition, Ico. And during that half-decade period nobody bothered to notice the one aspect of game design above all others. It's something I like to call gameplay. ....Where is it? All of that development time was clearly dedicated to creating a visual tour-de-force, but even the graphics are marred by very frequent pop-up and slowdown. It must drop below 20 FPS in certain areas, and textures frequently appear out of thin air!! Way to go Sony!!

How could I give such a huge title such a low rating? Simply put, it's not very fun to play. In fact it's one of the more frustrating games to come along in quite some time. The concept is straightforward enough, divided into three major objectives: locate the giant Colossi, find their weak spot(s) and then stab it to death with your sword. You also have a bow & arrow at your diposal with an infinite supply of arrows. These are mainly used to draw the attention of colossi but not for killing them nor inflicting any real damage for that matter. Nevertheless, first you'll have to locate a colossus before you can do battle with it. Searching for them can be a real pain, thanks in no small part to a pathetic world map which is about as helpful as looking at the wall for clues, and then there's Argo, your horse, which seems to run into anything and everything he possibly can just to frustrate the hell out of you. You have to hold up your sword in sunlit areas and use the light beam it emits in order to know which direction the colossus is located at. You'll transverse plains, desert areas, condensed forests with sun beams penetrating throughout, passageways over grand vistas, and, once you've ventured close enough to the right spot, an apparition will appear before you -- a colossus. I must emphasize that finding that specific location isn't always easy and you won't be rewarded for sidetracking with some special item or other hidden surprise -- there are no items to acquire in this game, unless you consider lizards and apples to be worth mentioning and those things are completely unnecessary. This isn't Zelda, that's for damn sure.

Once you've located your target colossus it's time to figure out where its weak point is hidden. Joy? Not quite. You'll also have to figure out how to get onto the colossus which at times can be tricky. You have limited amount of strength (no relation to your health meter, although they both regenerate as time passes), so you have to be cautious about losing your grip, falling, and having to get back onto the damn thing. One boss in particular was quite impressive: a flying colossus in a desert area. Most of the others failed to impress me.

It took me seven hours of game time to complete the game, though probably 8 or 9 hours total (I died once). I'm not even getting into the storyline because it is all but existant during the game so, I figured, if it's not important to Sony then it's not important to Icarus. So let's talk a little more about the main reason, nay -- the only reason why this game is going to sell.

You've probably never seen another 3D PS2 game with the asthetic prowess of SotC. Imagine a PS2 trying to run a game for a stronger console. That's what Shadow makes you think. Naturally the system will show its weakness at times but it's still quite an accomplishment. One problem I had with the visuals is the amount of color or lack thereof. I've probably never seen another 3D title more bound to grey and brown hues as this here title. But the animation on the characters, the colossi and most especially Argo is supreme radiance whenever the frame rate allows you to notice it. When all is said and done what you're left with is the game itself and Shadow is merely decent the first time through. Now that it's over, I don't feel the urge to play it again. Heck, had they at least been seven good hours I would've given it a higher rating, but I just don't throw around high ratings wantonly, certainly not for the sake of visual flair like those other reviewers do. Strip this of its visuals and you're left with a shell of a game.

I've heard it said that SotC has the soundtrack of the year. I couldn't possibly disagree more. Shadow is aflush with whispering strings, soft ambience and foreboding orchestral flair. And, oftentimes, there's silence. Aside from the one slightly moving piece which usually follows after defeating a colossus, and perhaps some of the ending music, there really isn't anything memorable about the soundtrack. It fits well with the game, sure, but I wouldn't consider it outstanding. The voice work is all done in some strange language which the developers decided to invent, so there's subtitles throughout the game. The sound effects are certainly well done.

On the back of the box it reads, "Some mountains are scaled. Others are slain." It should read, "Some games are fun. This one just sucks." If you want to experience what this game has to offer without paying a cent for it, just go online (like you currently are...), find a site with clear pictures and videos, download and viola -- you own Shadow of the Colossus, sans the frustration, the control scheme from hell, the time wasted....

These people should make CG movies instead of games.
--------------------------------------------
Enter the Dawn

Castlevania ~ Dawn of Sorrow - Nintendo DS - Rating 8
What better way to first begin reviewing a system's games than with a new Castlevania? Let me just say that this portable system has got some juice! Although I have yet to examine its 3D capabilities, its 2D power is nothing to be scoffed at, easily eclipsing the GBA's best. This translates to the best looking 2D Castlevania since Symphony of the Night. You want to talk about playability? Dawn of Sorrow would make an old man cry tears of joy. Like with its predecessors, you get so wrapped up in the quest that you forget about the outside world until the credits are rolling ....and then get sucked right back into it with the unlockable Julius Mode in which you can swap between three different characters on the fly (after you've joined up with the latter two): Julius Belmont, Yoko Belnades, and Mina Hakuba. This isn't just for show as each character possesses different abilites which are necessary in order to complete the game again. I would've preferred another castle a-la SotN but I'm not complaining.

After the tragic disaster that was CV ~ Curse of Darkness for the PS2/XBox, this comes as a sigh of relief. Don't breathe easy, though, because there's more monster bashing to be done here than at an Addams Family get-together. There will be challenging bosses for you to tackle, hair-raising surprises and tricky obstacles for you to surpass. Just the way I like it. DoS does not get a Rating 9 because it's not quite as supreme as SotN was and still is to this day. Veteran CV players have experienced most of what this game has to offer in previous installments. There are some new tricks for Soma Cruz to utilize and some returning notables as well. Like in Aria of Sorrow, Soma can acquire souls from all of the normal enemies and most bosses, including some hidden enemies which will only appear when you use the right kind of soul or item in the proper locations. Perhaps the most noticeable new ability is Puppet Master which allows Soma to throw a rag doll and then switch places with it.

Unfortunately the touch screen functionality is limited mostly to the Balore ability which allows you to destroy certain blocks by touching them, and then there's that whole Magic Seal thing. Whenever you defeat a boss, a seal will appear on the screen and you'll have to quickly draw it in order to take out the boss for good. Failure to do so will grant the boss some additional life and might cause your girlfriend to dump you as well. You can toggle the top screen of the DS between viewing the map or status window with a simple press of the Select button.

As if it needs to be said, the controls are spot-on and precise. Most people know they truly don't deserve to be playing a game this good. If not for quality companies like Konami, I truly don't know what I would be doing now but I damn sure wouldn't be playing half-ass crap like GTA or Jak X ~ Combat Racing. I'll leave turds like those for the nonessential crowd to devour. DoS has superb graphics and silky smooth animation, playability from the Heavens, controls to die for, challenges galore, longevity, and tons of funfactor. As rosy as I make it sound, every rose has its thorn and DoS is no exception. One minor flaw has to do with how Soma can ricochet off one hit and into another with nary a breathing space. It's a small flaw in an otherwise stellar production, yes, but it can get frustrating at times, particularly during the final boss encounter.

A most worthy CV soundtrack, handled mostly by Masahiko Kimura. I don't know why everybody keeps attributing all the credit to Michiru Yamane. She contributed to the soundtrack but it's not really hers. Some of the best pieces include Pitch Black Intrusion, Dracula's Tears, Evil Invitation, and Into The Dark Night. You can open up Sound Mode by beating the game. What's especially impressive is the amount of voices Konami crammed into such a tiny little cart: 190 total. I have a special cable which allows me to connect my DS to either my stereo or PC. Let me tell you that it makes a world of a difference! The lower frequencies, for such things as bass and lower pedal tones of the organ, are aggrandizd tenfold and it sounds fantastic. The overall sound quality is superb, far better than the GBA outings, though not SotN quality.

Everybody that owns a DS really needs to purchase Dawn of Sorrow. It's the gift that keeps on giving. (It makes a great stocking stuffer. ;)) With games like Mario Kart DS and Trauma Center ~ Under The Knife to keep you all warm and cozy, the DS' library is getting better and better all the time. Playing Castlevania on the DS by the Yule log fire -- how does life get any better?

~True story~
I brought my DS over my friend's house and brought along both Castlevania and Trauma Center. When I came back home I had forgotten that I had put CV in my pocket and put my pants in the washing machine and dryer. Afterwards, when I wanted to play some more CV, I realized what I had done, got my clothes from out of the dryer and, sure enough, found CV in the pocket. I slipped CV into my DS for what I thought would be the last time ....and it still worked! Even my save files were all intact!! I don't know how they manufacture DS games but these things are built to last, that's for certain. Now I own Castlevania ~ Dawn of Sorrow -- Special Laundry Detergent/Snuggle Softened Edition!!!

I'd like to see someone try that with a PSP game.
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Old 12-19-2005, 01:16 AM   #1478
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That's pretty awesome to hear about how Castlevania survived the laundry. I think the only way you could really destroy a DS game is with some really strong scissors or something like that. Speaking of which a TurboGrafx-16 card also may be able to survive the laundry. But I don't wanna try!
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Old 12-19-2005, 05:00 AM   #1479
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Cool. I didn't know DS games can?t get damage because of getting wet. My only worry with DS games is losing them because they are so small.
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Old 12-19-2005, 04:13 PM   #1480
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Yes, that's a problem, isn't it? You've got to take very good care of your DS software. Always keep the games in their boxes when not in use. Then the only way you'll lose them is if you lose the boxes, and you'd have to be pretty stupid to do that.
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Old 12-23-2005, 12:53 AM   #1481
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Say goodbye to your social life

Dragon Quest VIII ~ Journey of the Cursed King - PS2 - Rating 7
After many--too many--restless nights spent running around one of the most expansive worlds ever conceived in an RPG (or any other game, for that matter), I am wasted. It almost seemed like the credits would never roll, but, as I'm a completist, it was only a matter of time. And let me tell you up front, close and personal that this may very well be the last time I subjucate myself to such an incredibly long RPG quest. Hey, I've got other things to do with my time! 30 hours is more than sufficient length for an RPG, in my humble opinion. Yes, Akira Toriyama's artwork looks especially great in 3D (much to my surprise; I was disappointed when I had first seen screenshots of this game), Yuji Horii dishes out a highly enjoyable storyline, and Koichi Sugiyama's affinity for the classical approach to composition works wonders here, even if the battle music gets beyond irritating by the 2,000th fight.

So, how long is DQVIII? To do practially everything in the game took me 100 hours.... Yes, that's approximately four days and four hours of my time stripped away. It wasn't as torturously long as DQVII (130 hours) but, all things considered, this is definitely not what I'm looking for in an RPG. They could've told the very same storyline in a much more agreeable manner of time, such as 40 hours, and yet I spent an absurd 50 hours in combat! 10 of those hours were spent leveling up just to take out ONE BOSS! It was an extra boss, sure, but come on! To make matters even worse, it would've taken just 1-2 hours had they programmed it so that those stupid Metal Slimes didn't always run away!! Do those people over at Enix/Level 5 have hearts? I'm guessing not.

If this game were 40-50 hours long I would've given it an 8 or even a 9 Rating. It's an amazing quest that's marred by a capacious amount of time wasted away in combat. As great a battle system as DQVIII has, it's not good enough to warrant the extended playtime. In fact, I don't know a battle system off the top of my head that's good enough to warrant a good 50+ hours. Heck, I beat most other RPGs in less time than that! If you've played DQVII or VI then you know what to expect here, except that it's all in 3D, obviously. As DQVIII was developed by the same team that brought you both Dark Cloud 1 & 2 (Level 5), expect to see the familiar 3D cel-shading used to full effect here. The visuals are quite pleasing, looking akin to a more detailed Ocarina of Time (no accident, I'm sure), and the animation is well done, for the most part. There are times when the frame rate suffers slightly but it's almost always as smooth and steady as a Playboy bunny's legs (not that I'd know).

There are some new additions to be found here that weren't present in former DQ titles, the most obvious being the 3D locales. However, as impressive as they are, there's nothing here that tells me that this game could not have been achieved in 2D. Next on the list of additions is the Alchemy Pot with which you can mix various weaponry, armour and items to create some unique crafts, an idea which Level 5 liberally borrowed from their Dark Cloud series. Although the battles are in full 3D, there's no discernable difference between them and former DQ battles except now you can actually see your party onscreen performing attacks and whatnot. According to blueskied, who has played through the import version, there are zero loading times. Not so here. Not only is there loading times but there's quite a lot of it, and it rears its ugly face nearly everywhere, even going into and out of your inventory screen! The loading is somewhat reduced while you're in a dungeon area but it still taxes your nerves and only serves to make an already frustrating game that much more frustrating.

What the hell was that magic ingredient that kept me pressing onward? The storyline played a large part (thanks Yuji-san, you whore). Why, oh why, did you have to write such a great storyline which, by the way, was exceptionally well translated, although I could never really get used to those European/British expressions and mannerisms such as Yangus' grating habit for yelling out "COR BLIMEY!" (Yup, Enix decided to add voice acting.) There were some, err, questionable accents used, such as a clearly faked French accent on one of the bartenders later in the game. But it's nothing to throw a fit over. In fact, much of the voice acting was well done. Angelo's voice was a perfect match... after the voice actor doing his part realized that he had to speak a bit louder into the mic so that you could actually hear what he was saying. Angelo often displays a chauvinistic attitude, providing comic relief, though he's not quite as lecherous as Lunar 2's Ronfar tended to be. Well, whatever. Jessica is a very determined, decisive lady who tends to reserve a gentler nature behind her fiery facade. Finally, there's Yangus, Hero's first companion from the game's outset, who wants to 'elp the guv (Hero) out when'ver possible.

Angelo ~ "One of my favorite pastimes is looking at beautiful women."

The plot starts out as somewhat basic affair but gets deeper as the game progresses. You play the role of Hero, a Trodain knight, who is escorting King Trode and the princess around the world, hoping to vanquish a curse which was placed upon them by Dhoulmagus, a Jester who stole the Royal Sceptre from Trodain Castle and placed a vile curse on everybody in that kingdom. The king has been transformed into a hideous green goblin-type creature and the princess has been changed into a white horse. And so, as the only person who didn't wind up cursed on that fateful night, it's Hero's mission to undo the evil curse and perhaps even save the world along the way. Of course there's far, faaar more to it than that, but that's the basic premise. What's especially interesting is how the game fills in all of your companions' past and present situations/motives but only leaves you with one mystery after another so far as Hero is concerned (Hero, by the way, never speaks a word throughout the game). Needless to say, all is explained before the second and final ending ensues.

When I had first bought and listened to the original Japanese soundtrack for DQVIII I was somewhat underwhelmed. Some of the compositions were of great quality but sorely lacked the extra oomph needed to help illustrate the drama and excitement of an epic adventure. What Enix decided to do is change the soundtrack for US/UK distribution into the Symphonic Suite, performed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchstra and conducted by (guess who?) Koichi Sugiyama. The result is a much more rich and enjoyable soundtrack, but due to the streamed music the US/UK versions have all that additional loading time. The sound effects are great, with some sounds reused from past DQ titles -- very befitting of the retro style of the quest.

Dragon Quest VIII deserves a better rating but I cannot allow it to have one because it wasted too much time and didn't reward me adequately for my efforts. Also, I know I've done most all of this before; I wanted something a little different. But the amount of effort Enix/Level 5 threw into this production cannot be ignored -- DQVIII is an outstanding game. Some review crews (EGM, Game Informer, etc.) lamented the fact that it's an old-school adventure ....and then proceeded to give Grand Theft Auto ~ Liberty City Stories for the PSP higher ratings, surveying its fine new additions such as new missions and, ummm.... it's GTAIII. "Hey, there's a couple of broads that I want you to knock off." Yeah, doesn't that sound like quality to you? Ok, let them have their way. One magazine only made it up to Dhoulmagus' compounds before attaching their ratings to it -- not even halfway through. All I can think to say is, "This is the Bbest driink I'VE had in aaages."

Random Templar knight ~ "I am nobility! We're a different breed from these commoners who've been permitted to join the ranks recently. Completely different. Observe! See the dignity with which I hold myself! My majesty! The natural authority I exude! My dashing appearance!? Look! Look at me!"

Well, this is farewell. I'm off to the castle. Drop by sometime if you'd like to see the adoration on my subjects' faces first-hand! Ta-ta!
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Old 12-23-2005, 01:38 AM   #1482
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I know that! Some things have absolutely no business being as long as they are... Dragon's Quest 8, Peter Jackson's King Kong, my dick, etc.
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Old 12-23-2005, 02:05 AM   #1483
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Dragon Quest VIII deserves a better rating but I cannot allow it to have one because it wasted too much time and didn't reward me adequately for my efforts.
Has any RPG ever rewarded the player for completing it? I can not think of any that did or gave anything spectacular for beating it. That is to bad since the take hours upon hours to beat.
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Old 12-23-2005, 02:35 AM   #1484
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Some people say that Tales of Symphonia did, but there are other games that wer much shorter such CT that gave better rewards.
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Old 12-23-2005, 04:43 AM   #1485
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Joe, that's quoteworthy right there. :cool guy:

SavedfromSin, I'd say that for its time Final Fantasy VII was rewarding for the extra effort, although now I think that it's played out.

Messanic, ToS was cool and all but I felt Tales of Destiny II to be superior in many ways. Unfortunately I haven't played any of the newer PS2 installments.
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